Energy Secretary Steven Chu suggested Sunday that Japan's nuclear crisis might make it less likely that new nuclear reactors are built near large American cities, just one of many safety changes that could be forthcoming as U.S. officials review reactor safety.
"Certainly where you site reactors and where we site reactors going forward will be different than where we might have sited them in the past," Chu said in response to questions about the Indian Point nuclear plant near New York City. "Any time there is a serious accident, we have to learn from those accidents and go forward."
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said his agency will again review how U.S. nuclear plants store spent fuel from nuclear reactors. The state of the spent fuel pools at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant has been a major concern as Japanese officials try to stem the release of radiation and bring the reactors under control.
"Five days ago everybody was worried about earthquakes and tsunamis and the reactors cooling," NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said. "Today everybody is worried about the spent fuel pools. Until this is resolved, we are not going to ultimately know what the most important factors are in terms of what needs to be addressed."
After the 2001 terrorist attacks, U.S. officials took steps to make sure that nuclear reactors could withstand an attack as well as earthquakes and other natural disasters. In the days after the Japan earthquake and tsunami, President Obama asked for another safety review.